Atlassian’s Aubrey Blanche Offers Approach for True Inclusivity

Fostering and building a truly diverse and inclusive workplace can be a challenge--but Atlassian's head of diversity and belonging Aubrey Blanche thinks it's possible, even for early-stage startups.

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For Blanche, crafting an inclusive workplace starts with understanding what that truly means. Speaking with StartupSmart, she noted that many companies simply look for 50/50 gender parity. However, she notes, "if all of your female employees are in HR and marketing, you're not actually creating diversity…what's actually important is that people different from each other are working together, day-to-day."

Blanche has demonstrated results that back up her stance. When she was first hired, only 10 percent of Atlassian's technical workforce was female. Blanche boosted that to 18 percent within her first year, with an entry-level engineering class that was 57 percent women.

Under Blanche, Atlassian has adopted a suite of internal tools designed to make analyzing the company's workforce and finding (and addressing) problems easier. "We take a really data-informed social science approach to build what we think of as an equitable and balanced company," Blanche says.

It's with this background of success--and the desire for other startups and established companies to improve their own inclusivity--that Blanche is leading Atlassian's efforts to make this tool public. Called the Atlassian Team Playbook, this free tool is being marketed as a "no bullshit guide to unleashing your team's potential."

Blanche has been building towards her role as Atlassian's head of diversity and belonging for much of her career. After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and her Master of Arts in Political Science from Stanford University, she spent some time in journalism before moving joining Palantir Technologies as Diversity Engineer in 2015.

From there, she joined Atlassian, rising through the ranks from global diversity programs lead to her current position. In the meantime, Blanche has been engaged to advise a wide range of companies seeking to improve their diversity and inclusiveness, including Aleria Research and Joonko.

Ultimately, Blanche sees her role as helping give Atlassian a better chance of success and serve a greater proportion of the population: "Everything is technology now and our lives are so influenced by it. We can't have only a small section of the world designing the technology that runs the rest of our lives. We all need to have a seat at the table."